A study has found that when patients and/or parents are tutored in hands-on, supervised self-injected epinephrine use, comfort levels with the devices greatly increase. The study followed on anecdotal accounts that many patients, especially older children and teenagers, had anxiety about self-administering epinephrine due to “needle phobia.”

The study, published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, surveyed 60 pairs of teenage patients and their parents to assess feelings of comfort and anxiety during appointments in a food allergy center.

During the appointments, researchers randomly chose pairs to receive self-injection training.

The other pairs were given instruction only via the usual educational methods (video, photos, pamphlets). the researchers found that patients and parents who underwent the hands-on training reported much higher confidence levels in their ability to use epinephrine auto-injectors than did those who received only hands-off instruction.

Follow up a month later with the same patients and survey found that comfort levels were maintained in those who’d received hands-on instruction.

“In other settings, exposure techniques were shown to reduce avoidance behaviors and improve adherence to medical recommendations,” the paper’s authors wrote. “In the food-allergy setting, this may translate into a higher likelihood of using the autoinjector when indicated..”

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